It was such an upper to see my mentee, who is at an age at which it’s hard to hold still, sitting quietly for long minutes with his arm outstretched in front of him, waiting for a butterfly to alight.” – A mentor from the Milton Mentors! program

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On one special day each year, after ECHO closes for the day, the museum and science center opens its doors to kids and their mentors for Community Science Night. This night is an opportunity for mentor pairs from northwest Vermont to explore the exhibits, get involved with hands-on demonstrations lead by the ECHO E-Team (Environmental Leadership Team), and even go on a scavenger hunt! This year, over 100 mentor pairs (more than 200 people) flooded in to experience all that ECHO has to offer.

00142The E-Team, a group of freshmen and sophomore high school students from Chittenden County, are celebrating their 10th year anniversary. Lead by Noella Krakowski, education programs coordinator at ECHO, the E-Team guided mentors and mentees through the building with a specially designed scavenger hunt, invited guests into the “Butterflies, Live!” exhibit, showcased the Champlain Sea Tank, and challenged mentors and mentees to design zip carts to save turtles.

“The Community Science Night is the time for the E-team to take over the museum,” said Krakowski. “The E-Team selects and designs the activities they want the mentor pairs to experience. It is their moment to highlight the skills they have been developing throughout the school year. I look forward every year to watching the team as they make decisions and develop their ideas.”

In addition to exploring ECHO, mentor pairs get the opportunity to meet mentor pairs from other programs or just spend time together one-on-one.

“I think it was a great opportunity for my mentee and I to do something different and enjoy nature. The butterflies were a definite highlight, we spent a lot of time in the 85 degree pavilion, which was a nice contrast to winter. I was just really grateful that we had the opportunity to enjoy this together.” Laurie Navilia-Miller, Essex FriendCHIPS Mentoring Program

Grand Isle MentoringIn total, eight mentoring programs were in attendance, including Grand Isle County Mentoring which brought 72 people (almost the entire program) to Community Science Night which serves as their one “outside of school” event for the year. The other programs in attendance were Spectrum Youth and Family Services, Community Friends Mentoring, Essex FriendCHIPS Mentoring Program, Milton Mentors!, King Street Center, Watershed Mentoring, and The DREAM Program.

ECHO goes the extra mile to reach everyone through their ECHO Open Door Program. This program makes ECHO financially accessible to all by “working to find affordable and equitable ways to allow all members of the community to have access to ECHO’s rich services and resources.” It is because of this program that mentor pairs all over Vermont have the opportunity to experience ECHO at a discounted rate any day, not just on Community Science Night. (Mentors can receive this rate by using presenting their Mobius Mentor Discount Card at the front desk.)

We want to thank ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain for hosting, Domino’s Pizza for donating over 50 pizzas to feed everyone, and the UVM Tri Delta sorority for volunteering during the event.

To learn more about the event. check out these interviews from NBC 5 with Tom Messner:

Mentors and Mentees Get a Look at ECHO
Learn More About Mobius
ECHO Celebrates Community Science Night

For more photos from the night, visit Mobius’ Facebook album!

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We had a great meeting with staff members from the offices of Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders, and mentoring program staff from across Vermont!

We had a great meeting with staff members from the offices of Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders, and mentoring program staff from across Vermont!

The National Mentoring Summit, convened by MENTOR each year at the conclusion of National Mentoring Month, brings together over 1,000 youth mentoring professionals, advocates, researchers, philanthropic investors, and government and civic leaders for three days of advocacy and professional development.

At this year’s event, earlier this February, 11 Vermont mentoring professionals (Chad and I from Mobius, and nine staff members from mentoring programs) made the trip to D.C. The theme of this year’s Summit was “Building Relationships, Advancing the Movement,” which fit well with the advocacy work that Mobius and four program staff members (from the Mentor Connector, King Street Center, Windsor County Partners, Girls/Boyz First, and Middlebury College’s Center for Community Engagement) did on the first day of the Summit. We travelled to Capitol Hill to meet with staff members from the offices of Senators Leahy and Sanders, and Representative Welch, to talk about the need for federal mentoring funding in Vermont and in other rural states.

Days two and three of the Summit were focused on highlighting national partnerships (including the NBA and LinkedIn), sharing from the latest research in the field, and workshops where participants could learn more about specific topics. For more information on the partners and themes of the Summit, visit our Facebook album about the event.

For Days two and three of the Summit, we were also joined by mentoring staff members from Essex CHIPS, Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, and Connecting Youth in Chittenden South.

For Days two and three of the Summit, we were also joined by mentoring staff members from Essex CHIPS, Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, and Connecting Youth in Chittenden South.

To try to capture what the value of attending the Summit is for someone who runs a mentoring program, we asked Gabriella Tufo-Strouse, the director of community outreach at the King Street Center (and a Mobius Board and Program Leadership Council member), to share from her experiences at this year’s event.

“The National Mentor Summit was a great experience, both professional and socially,” says Gabriella. “I loved Capitol Hill Day and being part of the advocacy work around mentoring at the state level. The networking amongst colleagues and local mentoring directors fostered good conversation and partnerships.”

“I attended five workshops and obtained useful material and insight form both the presenters as well as the audience members. My takeaways from the conference, which I will try to implement into my mentoring program, with help from mentors, youth, and other mentoring partners are:

  • Family engagement – looking at the importance of family involvement in the mentoring match.
  • Hearing youth voices – giving youth a voice in the activities and events we hold each year.
  • Transitions – looking at youth as they transition from elementary to middle and middle to high school. “

Gabriella’s participation in the Summit, and in Capitol Hill Day, was made possible through a financial scholarship awarded through the Vermont Mentoring Grants. We are grateful to the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and the A.D. Henderson Foundation for providing funding for four such scholarships that allowed mentoring professionals from around the state to attend the event this year.

We continue to be grateful to our partners at MENTOR for organizing this annual event, which allows us to be a part of a larger movement, and benefit from the awareness, advocacy, and knowledge that this national community continues to collectively build.

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“Mentoring is such a great way to take action towards supporting and building our communities, it was really inspirational to see so many mentors who work towards that goal gathered in one place.  I hope that the event will help build more momentum in expanding mentoring across Vermont.”
– Mike Fife, Burlington

Each year, the Chittenden County Mentoring Network brings mentors from all over northwest Vermont together for a night of appreciation and community. This year, the event took place at the beautiful Burlington International Airport on January 24. Mentors and program staff from the King Street Center, Spectrum Youth and Family Services, Essex CHIPS, CY- Connecting Youth, MOVE, Saint Michael’s College, Milton Mentors, Howard Center Community Friends Mentoring, and The DREAM Program came out to share their stories and hear from mentors in other programs.

“It was a pleasure to meet so many different types of people, old, young, male, female and feel so comfortable sharing the excitement and wonderment of mentoring. Everyone couldn’t wait to share their story. It’s the first time I have ever spent an hour and half just with other mentors. The evening will be remembered as both educational and supporting.”
– Hunter Townsend, South Burlington

In addition to Burlington International Airport, we want to thank all wonderful businesses that donated their products to the event: Costco, Sugarsnap, American Flatbread Burlington Hearth, Great Harvest Bread Co., Klinger’s Bakery and Cafè, The Skinny Pancake at Burlington International Airport, Vermont Smoke & Cure, Cabot Creamery Co-operative, Sweet Clover Market, Chappell’s Florist, and the United Way of Northwest Vermont. Thank you!

“I think that it was a great experience for me to have as a mentor. I got to form a closer bond with those in my program that attended which will go to further create security and stability for our mentees. Additionally I enjoyed speaking with other mentors from around the state and can only hope that I can continue mentoring even after I leave UVM’s DREAM program.”
– Meg Rowe, Burlington

CY silly DREAM group shot silly FriendCHIPs silly shot King st group silly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AmeriCorps VISTA Logo Transparent

AmeriCorps VISTA Logo TransparentThis year, I am the AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with Mobius, Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership. I began my time with Mobius in August 2016 and will complete my service year in August 2017, which means that each event and campaign we plan or participate in is the first time I will get to experience it from the Mobius side of the mentoring world.

Each year in January, Mobius organizes the annual Mentoring Celebration at the Vermont Statehouse that brings mentors, mentees, program staff, and mentoring supporters together to appreciate all of the amazing volunteer mentors we have in Vermont, and officially recognize January as National Mentoring Month. In the planning of this event, I was able to experience a long list of things I had never done before, such as asking businesses to sponsor the event. I was also able to take advantage of experiences I already had and apply them to the celebration by designing the programs and photographing the event with a fellow VISTA who serves with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bennington County and the Seedlings Program.

I walked around the event with my camera, seeing all of the hard work Mobius had put into this celebration come to life. We Emily Bellmore with award 2honored Emily Bellmore as our 2017 Vermont Comcast Mentor of the Year, danced to an awesome performance by Spectrum mentor Rajnii Eddins and his mentee Ethan, listened to Governor Phil Scott talk about his personal mentoring experiences, heard from some mentees about what their mentors mean to them, got to experience Twinfield Together Mentoring Program read the Governor’s Mentoring Month Proclamation, and heard Representative Sarah Copeland-Hanzas introduce a Mentoring
Month Resolution that was approved by the Vermont House and Senate. I saw mentors and mentees publicly recognized as they gathered in the balcony of the House Chambers and listened to Lt. Governor David Zuckerman conclude the event and begin the statehouse tours with a civics lesson.

Right now, we are reaching the end of National Mentoring Month, which also happens to mark the halfway point in my service year, and as I think back to what a busy month it has been, I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of it and cannot wait to see what the second half of my year will look like.

*This year’s event was made possible with the help of our sponsors: Lead Statehouse Event Sponsor Redstone; Mentor of the Year Sponsor Comcast Vermont Mentoring Month Sponsors Rutland Regional Medical Center, The University of Vermont Medical Center, and Cabot Creamery Co-operative; and Mentoring Supporter Sponsors DR Power Equipment, Heritage Aviation, Vermont Gas Systems, Langrock Sperry & Wool, LLP., Union Mutual, Local Muscle Movers, and New England Federal Credit Union.

Special thank you to fellow VISTA Lorianna Weathers for helping me photograph the event! Both of us serve through the Vermont Youth Tomorrow VISTA program, coordinated by the Washington County Youth Service Bureau.

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Each month, Mobius creates a blog post highlighting mentoring program events from around the state. Would you like to see your event listed here (and referenced in Vermont’s Mentoring Newsletter)? Email benji@mobiusmentors.org with a write-up that includes the location and date of your event, as well as a summary of what happened. Photos are strongly encouraged!

WCS CY Mentoring Kick Off Dinner – November 2, 2016

Connecting Youth Mentoring 2016 Kickoff at Williston Central SchoolConnecting Youth mentees from Williston Central School gathered with their mentors and with their families over a delicious dinner to celebrate their mentoring friendships and to kick off the new mentoring year.  These photos give you a glimpse of the “meant to be” Connecting Youth pairs – both established and newly matched – now launched across the school district.

Learn more by checking out the full slide show of photos from the event on the Williston Central School website! Special thanks to photographer Bill Knight.

2016 Kickoff Dinner for Connecting Youth Mentoring at Williston Central School

Starksboro Mentoring Pizza and Games Night – November 9, 2016

Pizza Night for Youth Mentoring - Starksboro Mentoring ProgramOn November 9, nearly 70 mentors, mentees and mentee family members from the Starksboro Mentoring Program joined together at the Robinson School cafeteria to eat pizza and play games together. There were dozens of games to choose from spread through 5 offices and classrooms in the school. A peek into any given room revealed mentees and mentors locked in concentration over chess and battleship matches, parents receiving gameplay tips from their children, and smiles on every face. “I had so much fun playing Checkers with my mentor and my family!” said one mentee, who was surrounded by mom, dad, mentor and siblings. This evening was the first of its kind, and its success surely points to more in the program’s future.

Starksboro Mentoring Match at Mentoring Pizza and Games Night - 2016Group shot of mentors and mentees at Starksboro Mentoring Pizza and Game Night 2016

Each month, Mobius creates a blog post highlighting mentoring program events from around the state. Would you like to see your event listed here (and referenced in Vermont’s Mentoring Newsletter)? Email benji@mobiusmentors.org with a write-up that includes the location and date of your event, as well as a summary of what happened. Photos are strongly encouraged!

 

Twinfield Together’s Patty and Lydia Talk to StoryCorps – September 2016

StoryCorps Comes to Vermont - Twinfield Together MentoringPatty and Lydia are in their fifth year of mentoring with the Twinfield Together Mentoring Program.  Earlier this fall, they joined StoryCorps to talk about their mentoring experiences. Listen to this  four-minute StoryCorps excerpt to hear Lydia and Patty reflect on first impressions, opening up, and what their relationship might be like in 10 years.

This election season, we asked all of the Vermont candidates for governor and lieutenant governor a couple of questions related to mentoring. We wanted to know why they think youth mentoring is important, and who some of the mentors are in their lives. We’ve included all of the responses we received below. We hope you’ll enjoy learning more about each of the candidates’ stances on mentoring!


Candidates for Governor of Vermont:   

Phil Scott

Candidate Name: Phil Scott Political Affiliation: Republican Party

Phil Scott
Republican Nominee for Governor

Why do you believe youth mentoring is important to Vermont’s future?

Mentoring is important to Vermont’s future because it makes both an immediate and long-term impact on a young person’s life. In government and politics, we spend a lot of time trying to improve the educational opportunities for young Vermonters, and regardless of party there is a consensus that investing in our children’s future is among the best uses of public resources. However, the factors that shape a child’s future extend beyond the classroom, and far too many Vermont children are considered “at-risk,” and lack reliable adult role models at home. That’s where mentoring comes in, because it gives a young person both the person to look up to and the person to rely on that every child deserves. Mentors help shape children’s perceptions of the world, reinforce positive traits and activities, and pass on the intangible life skills that can ultimately propel children to success when they become adults. People who dedicate their time and energy in mentoring programs deserve every Vermonter’s thanks and respect for their investment in our children’s future.

Looking back, who are some of the mentors you’ve had and what impact did those individuals have on your life?

I’ve had many mentors in my life, both as a child and as an adult. Two that come to mind are Richard Flies, my high school shop teacher, and Senator Dick Mazza, with whom I served in the Vermont legislature.

Richard Flies had a tremendous impact on my life growing up. He sparked my interest in the trades, pushed me to succeed in school, and ultimately, when I enrolled in college, I studied to become a vocational educator to follow in his footsteps (perhaps subliminally). I even got my teaching certificate, but since life always has a way of surprising us, my path led me into business instead. I don’t think it’s an accident that I work in construction today; Mr. Flies taught me that I get the most enjoyment out of building things and working with my hands, and his lessons still resonate with me to this day.

My second mentor came into my life much later, 16 years ago, in fact, when I entered politics, and this mentor came from the most unusual of places: the other party. Senator Dick Mazza, a Democrat from Grand Isle County, took me under his wing and taught me how important it is to hear both sides of an issue and how to be an advocate for my constituents. He was the first person to encourage me to seek the Lt. Governor’s office and he has surpassed the level of colleague and mentor – he truly feels like my family.

To learn more about Phil Scott, visit www.philscott.org.


Sue Minter

Sue Minter - Democratic Nominee for Governor of Vermont

Sue Minter
Democratic Nominee for Governor

Why do you believe youth mentoring is important to Vermont’s future?

As a working mom, I spent countless hours volunteering in my kids’ schools in Waterbury helping children learn to read, write and be productive students. I saw first hand what a difference it made to have caring adults engaged in the lives of young people. That’s why I have made mentoring a key component of Vermont Promise, my plan for tuition-free community and technical college.

Vermont Promise will enable all young Vermonters to receive the education and training they need to participate and succeed in this 21st Century economy. Right now, two thirds of the jobs in Vermont require some form of higher education, and yet 40 percent of Vermont students do not go on to receive any kind of post-secondary education. Vermont Promise will ensure that students can access jobs that pay well, give families an affordable path to college, and make sure that businesses have the strong workforce they need in order to grow. Vermont Promise is a win-win-win for our state.

All participants in Vermont Promise will be matched with a volunteer mentor. I believe that this statewide mentoring program will be one of the most powerful parts of Vermont Promise. Young people need a champion, someone to challenge and encourage them to aim higher. The Vermont Promise mentors will help change the lives of young people all across the state.

Looking back, who are some of the mentors you’ve had and what impact did those individuals have on your life?

  • Former Governor Madeleine Kunin has been a tireless torch bearer, encouraging me and other women to step up, speak up, and lead.
  • Don Laws – My figure skating coach until age 16, taught me perseverance, commitment, and the importance of having fun, following a dream, and never giving up.
  • Bobby Minter – My late big brother questioned authority, pushed limits, taught me about social justice, was vivacious & competitive, and was also a goofball.
  • Evelyn Minter – My 86-year-old mom gave me my optimism, a zest for life and adventure, a passion for sports, and showed me that the world was not a level playing field, and instilled in me the commitment to make life better for others.

To learn more about Sue Minter, visit www.sueminter.com.


Candidates for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont:

David Zuckerman

David Zuckerman - Candidate for Vermont Lieutenant Governor

David Zuckerman
Democratic/Progressive Nominee for Lieutenant Governor

Why do you believe youth mentoring is important to Vermont’s future?

Youth mentoring is critical and provides a benefit to the youth as well as mentors. Today’s youth have many distractions and challenges to overcome. Families are often divided, video games and “screen time” are always tempting, adolescence can be difficult to navigate, and schoolwork expectations continue to grow. Too many are falling behind or not developing basic life skills. Mentoring can provide an opportunity to practice interacting with different people, help understand how to manage money and time, and provide opportunity to learn how to accept constructive (and sometimes not as constructive) criticism.

Our youth are as strong as the communities they are raised in. The more people there to support, listen, encourage, and teach the more opportunities they will find. Parents are also busy and a family with all parents working is the norm. Mentors increase the amount of time and diversity of perspectives youth have access to. I also think there is a value to the mentor as it allows others the opportunity to also build friendships, have their skills validated, or celebrate success together. I see opportunity to engage more of our aging population in mentoring programs as a way to utilize the wealth of information they have and provide them with an important purpose after they retire.

Looking back, who are some of the mentors you’ve had and what impact did those individuals have on your life?

My father died a month after I turned 13. My older brother had his own challenges as a teenager so at that time he could not really be my mentor. There was a math teacher, David Moore, at the high school who was also a family friend and he mentored me while taking me on occasional fishing trips, or walks in nearby parks. Our neighbors were also mentor “substitute” parents. Cheryl Whitfield was a second mother for me. She and her husband Rufus, parents of my best friend Korey, gave me another perspective on enjoying life as well as working hard to get through difficult challenges. All three of those individuals helped show me the importance of empathy for others. The support and empathy that was shown to me has created the ability for me to empathize with others. I often rely on this skill with people who I do not know, but for whom I can have patience for their negative actions, knowing that something, sometime, somewhere, may well have put them into a state where they are not making the best decisions in that moment. Having patience to learn and accept where others are has been a very important life lesson and skill for me.

To learn more about David Zuckerman, visit www.zuckermanforvt.com.

Each month, Mobius creates a blog post highlighting mentoring program events from around the state. Would you like to see your event listed here (and referenced in Vermont’s Mentoring Newsletter)? Email benji@mobiusmentors.org with a write-up that includes the location and date of your event, as well as a summary of what happened. Photos are strongly encouraged!

Backpacks for Bigs and Littles - Bennington County Big Brothers Big SistersNew Backpacks for Bennington County Mentees – August 2016

The Vermont Country Store made a donation, so that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bennington County could purchase backpacks for all its Littles. The donation was so generous that they were able to buy school supplies to go in ALL of the backpacks! In addition, Citizens Bank also donated 18 sets of school supplies.

Ride the Ridges Fundraiser – September 11, 2016

Ride the Ridges - Cabot Mentoring FundraiserWhat’s a little rain, thunder and lightning on a bike ride?  For Cabot Connects Mentoring’s  Ride the Ridges fundraiser, it’s a tradition!  A record 120 riders turned out for the fourth annual bike ride on September 11th.   The day started with a delay thanks to Mother Nature but, eventually, 12 brave souls lined up under pouring rain at 8:30 in the morning to begin the 100K taking them through Cabot, Danville and Peacham.  As the weather cleared, over a hundred more riders lined up for the 60K; 30K and the 10K rides, featuring bikes of all types- including fat tire bikes and even a couple of unicycles!  Ride the Ridges is a major fundraiser for Cabot Connects Mentoring Program and 2016’s ride not only saw a record number of participants but also hit a record for funds raised- a true success.  Among the riders were a crew of 18 mentors, mentees and community supporters from the Twinfield Together Mentoring Program– proving that some of the best support can be found through collaboration!  A huge thank you to our over 20 business sponsors and to Cellars at Jasper Hill, Woodbelly Pizza, Burtt’s Apple Orchards and Sweet B’s Bakery for keeping our riders and supporters well fed throughout the day!

Girls/Boyz First Mentoring Group Bike Trip – September 11, 2016

Girls Boyz First Mentor Pair - Stowe Bike Path 2016On September 11, five Girls/Boyz First mentor pairs took advantage of a beautiful fall day to ride the bike path in Stowe.  An early fall from one of the youngest riders taught everyone in the group a get up and brush off resiliency. The rest of the time the group enjoyed great camaraderie and nice exercise.

Each month, Mobius creates a blog post highlighting mentoring program events from around the state. Would you like to see your event listed here (and referenced in Vermont’s Mentoring Newsletter)? Email benji@mobiusmentors.org with a write-up that includes the location and date of your event, as well as a summary of what happened. Photos are strongly encouraged!

Twinfield Together Visits Boulder Beach – July 26, 2016

Mentors and mentees from the Twinfield Together Mentoring Program recently gathered together for a fun group event at Boulder Beach at Lake Groton.  What a beautiful July night to enjoy kayaking, swimming and a cookout!

Twinfield Together Mentoring Summer Gathering at Boulder Beach - July 2016

Each month, Mobius creates a blog post highlighting mentoring program events from around the state. Would you like to see your event listed here (and referenced in Vermont’s Mentoring Newsletter)? Email benji@mobiusmentors.org with a write-up that includes the location and date of your event, as well as a summary of what happened. Photos are strongly encouraged!

JUMP Mentoring’s End of the Year Ice Cream Socials – June 2016

The JUMP Mentoring Program closed out the school year with ice cream socials at the Lyndon Town School and St. Johnsbury School.  Mentors, Mentees and guidance counselors attended and everybody shared stories of the school year together and built their own ice cream sundaes!  We had full attendance at Lyndon Town School which was a first for JUMP.  Everybody is looking forward to starting the school year back with their mentees soon! (Sarah Sanville, Northeast Kingdom Youth Services)

Ice cream social - JUMP Mentoring 2016